Friday, July 21st, 2017 #MEAAEquity
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Casting director Rosie Traynor shares her top tips for TVC auditions.

Rosie Traynor has been in the casting industry since 2000. She has worked in television drama and reality television, was an agent for five years, and for the past five years has been a casting director at Chameleon Casting.

1.Before auditioning, check out Campaign Brief and Mumbrella to see what’s current. Some campaigns are specific about any other advertising you’ve done in the past five years, so keep a list of all your jobs. Actors can be vague about this in auditions and on their job forms, and it can cause complications down the track. We need to know about any previous advertising work – the year, the product etc. You’re in a business relationship with your agent and the two of you are responsible for the accuracy of this information. Get copies of your contracts and deal memos from your agent, so you are familiar with the release period, mediums and options, and fill in your job form honestly.

2.Keep call sheets and become familiar with directors and production companies’/advertising agencies’ work.

3.Be really diligent when it comes to details re driving requirements – this is a biggie. Check the number of points left, licence status etc. We don’t want to send you home on the day of your audition because you don’t meet the requirements of the job.

4. Check your availability. Only go in for a casting if you are available for the shoot dates. Please don’t use the audition as an opportunity to remind us of who you are, when you have knowingly booked a trip to Hawaii. If there are potential problems for wardrobe calls and so on, flag them with your agent. Communicate all of your restrictions and any possible availability issues – for example, ‘must be in Southbank by 6.30pm’. Then please let us know when you come in for the audition or, even better, before you come in – sometimes, but not always, these things can be negotiable.

5. Do your best to be on time. We try to make adjustments to our schedule to fit you in for auditions but, boy, do we love it when an actor can make their audition time without changing it. Gold star! Remember that we need a lunchbreak, too; we are much better in the casting room afterwards. It can feel a little Groundhog Day when we are saying the same thing all day, so be kind. Also, if you are the last auditionee of the day, please, please don’t be late.

6.Think about how to present yourself. With TVCs, we need to be able to read you immediately – sadly, there is generally no arc for the character. Keep this is mind when deciding what to wear. Do your research. Read the brief, read between the lines of the brief and, if you are really smart, be aware of who is directing this and research the style of the director/production company. Ask your agent for all possible information, so that you can give yourself the best possible chance. (It should go without saying to bring up-to-date bios, pics and so on.) Know your marketplace – it’s not impressive to say you don’t watch TV. Rather, it will help you in the audition room if we can make a bridging reference to a style of show or an actor.

7.What is a ‘chat to camera’? This is our chance to see where you’re at – your voice, physicality and, without getting all hippy about it, essence. It’s not always about you as an actor – for example, how many short films you have done. By all means mention your recent work, but it’s not a competition. We will be more likely to remember someone who has a well-rounded life, with an interesting hobby or travel stories. Be natural and connect with the person in the room, without being too sucky.

8.Why are CDs always running late? Allow plenty of time for your audition, and then some. If there is a wait, ask the receptionist politely how far behind they are running. Actors sometimes get lost or run late for other reasons, then come in and take up another actor’s spot. We don’t turn them away if these things happen and it can cause a bottleneck. We understand that most people have other jobs, so audition spots later in the day are in demand and this may occasionally blow out. Nine times out of 10, we receive late notice from production to proceed with a session – that’s why you don’t get much notice. In the actual session, producers/directors often ask for complex actions from auditionees, after the audition times have been allotted. This, too, affects the timing. Also, we like to cast the net wide so we don’t always see the same faces. Bring in good energy in spite of all of this – we’re all in it together. We only get you in because we already like you and want to give you the opportunity of getting the job. Be polite to everyone – today’s receptionist is tomorrow’s casting director, and they will have a long memory.

9. Be well prepared with what you have been given, but also be prepared to throw it away and go in a completely different direction. Offer something fun. Be playful. Listen to the casting director and ask for clarification, if necessary. We do our best to match you up with another person in the room, but sometimes it doesn’t work out, so try not to overcompensate. Once you have auditioned, the screen tests go through many filters – casting director, director, production company, ad agency and then client. Unfortunately, it’s not always the actor who does the most outstanding job who eventually scores the role. Just bring your A game to every audition; it will eventually pay off.

10. Use the audition to your advantage. Acting for TVCs is just another gear change. Come in with a few offers, put your own spin on it and then we can adjust, if necessary. Doing a TVC is a good reminder to the CDs of Australia who you are, what you look like at the moment and, of course, how fabulous you are. Finally, if you have a bad cold, please don’t come in. We’ll really appreciate it.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2017 issue The Equity Magazine.